The Royal Gorge Tram!
Fun exciting outdoor destinations are always popular during early summer, especially on weekends. Adventure park destinations provide a chance to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature while getting some healthy exercise and of course, the daredevil thrill rides will provide an opportunity to experience the thrill of a lifetime! In Colorado, the majestic Royal Gorge is at the top of the adventure park list, simply because the setting for this outdoor entertainment complex is so extreme. The narrow Royal Gorge is over 1,200 feet deep, so conquering the daredevil thrill rides that are way high up over the the Arkansas River down below will create memories that deliver adrenaline rushes for a lifetime!
Royal Gorge is also known as the “Grand Canyon Of the Arkansas River” and this nickname certainly is apropos. The Arkansas River winds its way downhill through the Rocky Mountains from Leadville, Colorado all the way to the Mississippi River in the State of Arkansas, which gives this waterway the distinction of being the sixth longest river in the world. The section from the town of Salida to Royal Gorge is called the Arkansas River Recreation Area and there is plenty to see and do along this long narrow stretch of public land. River rafting is the most popular activity and rafting excursion companies can be found close to Royal Gorge. Everything from fly fishing to rock climbing can be done along the banks of the river and there are plenty of campgrounds and lodges too.
Royal Gorge is the grand finale of the Arkansas River downhill run, before this waterway moves onward into the flatlands of the Great Plains. In a way, it is fitting that Royal Gorge is the grand exit of the Arkansas River from the mountains and this is part of what makes Royal Gorge such a majestic place. Royal Gorge is one of the deepest canyons in the west and on a grand scale, this scenic gorge can make anything look small by comparison. Because of the physical nature of Royal Gorge, it is an intimidating dangerous place to be and this contributes to the thrill of it all!
The Royal Gorge Tram is one of several thrill rides that are maintained by the Cañon City Park Service. The tram also happens to be the tamest of the thrill rides, which include a monster size death defying bungie cord jump, long zip lines that stretch across the deep canyon and tethered sky diving. When compared to the other thrilling attractions, riding in the tram across the deep canyon can be likened to an airplane ride, because the tram cabins are fully enclosed. Even so, the perception of tameness is relative, because those who suffer from acrophobia will certainly request to be left behind. Once the tram moves over the edge of the cliff, it is over 950 feet straight down at that spot and to tell the truth, one look down is enough to scare the bejesus out of just about anybody!
On the day that I visited Royal Gorge it was late in the spring season and high winds were expected before noon. While chatting with one of the park service workers, he mentioned that the tram would likely be shut down early in the day because of high winds, so it would be best to do the tram ride first, instead of walking across the bridge like what most of the other tourists were doing. High winds definitely are a limiting factor in this place and the gusts can be very strong when the wind rips through this narrow canyon. For this reason, if you wish to do the daring thrill rides at Royal Gorge Park, it is best to check the weather report ahead of time and plan accordingly. This is a dangerous place where the safety crew takes no chances, so if it is a very windy day it is best to expect closures.
There really is nothing scary about the tram ride that goes across the Royal Gorge and this cable ride is actually very smooth. The glass in the tram is curved, so visitors can practically look straight down while traversing the deep canyon, which is a thrill in its own right! The views from the tram cabin are nothing less than spectacular and the entire Royal Gorge Bridge can be seen as well. Trying to take a few photos through the glass can be frustrating, because the glare of the sunlight does cause problems. For those who want to capture the moment on film, I suggest taking a few extra snapshots, so the good ones can be saved and the duds can simply be tossed out. The tram ride definitely offers the best views of the old historic Royal Gorge Railroad Bridge and the memories will inspire fun conversations for many years to come!
Cañon City did a tremendous job of converting an old historic railroad suspension bridge into a major tourist attraction when they created the Royal Gorge Park Entertainment Complex. The thrill rides range from mild to wild in this place, so anybody that does not have a fear of heights can have a great time! There is no other place on earth like Royal Gorge and this is reason enough to chalk up this exciting destination high on the lifetime travel bucket list!